Tensions have been brewing between Beijing and Canberra this year due to criticism over China’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. A string of incidents have resulted, including Beijing launching an investigation into subsidies in Australia’s wine export industry, and Huawei pulling its sponsorship for NRL team the Canberra Raiders.

As we know, incentive groups from China are one of the significant drivers of Australia’s economy, so will these tensions spill over into the world of business events?

Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) CEO Julia Swanson believes that while there may be a swing to mid-sized groups in the short term that mega-incentives will return in the longer term as markets recover and conditions become safe again.

Ms Swanson continued that her and her team have responded quickly to the rapidly changing market conditions and are confident that their relationship with China, which is one of their key markets, will not suffer.

“Right from the outset of the pandemic, we’ve worked closely with our clients to reschedule their business events, rather than cancel,” she said.

“With staff on the ground in China, we are in daily contact with our clients and providing them with tools and information as we work through this moment in time.

“We’ve also been engaging with industry through webinars, specifically designed to connect us with key decision-makers in China and right across Asia relating to corporate and incentive markets as they recover, providing updates on our products and offerings to inspire future group travel and drive business opportunities to MCB partners.”

We’ve probably got a while to wait before international, in-person incentives become a reality again, but it’s good to see a bureau laying the groundwork for if and when that happens.